Radio Website Header-Waves 6 3.0.jpg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

"They Stole Him Out of Jail" - Willie Earle, South Carolina's Last Lynching Victim

Walter Edgar's Journal
SC Public Radio
/

In They Stole Him Out of Jail (2019, USC Press), William B. Gravely presents the most comprehensive account of the Willie Earle's lynching ever written, exploring it from background to aftermath and from multiple perspectives. Gravely meticulously re-creates the case’s details, analyzing the flaws in the investigation and prosecution that led in part to the acquittals. Vivid portraits emerge of key figures in the story, including both Earle and cab driver T. W. Brown, Solicitor Robert T. Ashmore, Governor Strom Thurmond, and Rebecca West, the well-known British writer who covered the trial for the New Yorker magazine.

Before daybreak on February 17, 1947, twenty-four-year-old Willie Earle, an African American man arrested for the murder of a Greenville, South Carolina, taxi driver named T. W. Brown, was abducted from his jail cell by a mob, and then beaten, stabbed, and shot to death. An investigation produced thirty-one suspects, most of them cabbies seeking revenge for one of their own. The police and FBI obtained twenty-six confessions, but, after a nine-day trial in May that attracted national press attention, the defendants were acquitted by an all-white jury.

All Stations: Fri, May 15, 2020, 12 pm | News Stations: Sun, May 17, 4 pm

- Originally broadcast 02/07/20 -

Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.